Somerford Common: Monday, 30th December 2019

As we missed a few sessions due to adverse weather (and a week away) in December, I decided to throw in a last ringing session for 2019 at Somerford Common on Monday.  I had my newest and oldest trainee with me, Tony Marsh, (the only one of my trainees who is actually older than me, and I am ancient, and the most recent to join the team).  As he is not yet extracting birds, I only set a few nets adjacent to the feeding station.  Tony has been a big help in reporting resighting of colour ringed Marsh Tits in Webb’s Wood over the years, and the least I can do by way of thanking him, is help him achieve his wish to become involved in ringing.

There is still no sign of any numbers of Redpoll, Siskin or Brambling turning up at Somerford yet: with just one caught at our last trip to Somerford, over the other side of the wood (and completely overshadowed by the two Buzzards).  They will come in the next two months (I hope).

As usual, Blue Tits dominated the catch, but there was also a good number of Chaffinch. In fact, we ringed as many Chaffinch as we did Blue Tit, and four times the number of Great Tits ringed.  However, both of those Tit species had good numbers of retrapped birds.

The list for the session was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1; Blue Tit 8(6); Great Tit 2(6); Coal Tit 1; Marsh Tit (2); Redwing 2; Blackbird 1; Chaffinch 8.  Totals: 23 birds ringed from 7 species; 14 birds retrapped from 3 species, making 37 birds processed from 8 species.  Not the most striking of catches – although the Redwing were an unexpected bonus, as they have rather disappeared from the area after the recent wet weather.

At about 10:00 we were joined by Tom Blythe.  Tom is the Beat Forester for Forestry England and covers a ridiculous amount of territory: all of the FE estate in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.  He is very helpful, keeping me informed of what FE are doing in our local woods and on how they might impact on our activities. As an example, on the western side of the wood, alongside the Stopper’s Hill road, they have been harvesting the conifers that have come to maturity, ready for market.  He let me know that the plan is to let that harvested area regrow naturally, with native tree species, rather than re-use it for another conifer crop.  That should provide us with an excellent opportunity for a project to monitor how the birdlife recolonises the area.  Another good thing about Tom (and Kate Wollen, the assistant ecologist for the area) is that they are vocal in their appreciation of the reporting they get from us – both our session reports and the annual Braydon Forest report.

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